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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Google AdWords Philosophy is Flawed

I read The Google AdWords Philosophy (found via a recent Inside AdWords post). It needs a major rewrite. Here's the text that's flawed:
At its heart the AdWords program is simple: we bring our users and advertisers together at the moment when their interests intersect. Users find what they're searching for, while advertisers find pre-qualified customers who are actively looking for exactly what they have to offer.
This is true of search engine advertising. Trouble is, AdWords is actually search engine advertising plus contextual advertising. If you run a campaign with the content network turned on (it's on by default when you create a new campaign), you're running ads on AdSense sites. That's NOT search engine advertising. People browsing sites displaying AdSense ads are NOT "customers who are actively looking for exactly what they have to offer." Not by a longshot. Google, please edit your philosophy document. It's seriously flawed.

Alternatively, for The Google AdWords Philosophy to be true, the AdWords platform needs to be changed. Changing the advertising platform to adhere to the philosophy might actually be beneficial to Google's AdWords customers. Here are the changes I prescribe:
  1. Don't mix the distribution of search ads and content ads. Split the existing keyword-targeted campaign into two options: keyword-targeted search and keyword-targeted content.

  2. Don't let users of the Starter Edition use content ads. They already cannot create site-targeted campaigns but they are opted into the content network via a single keyword-targeted campaign.
Currently, when you create a campaign, the choices are keyword-targeted and site-targeted. A site-targeted campaign distributes ads on the content network. A keyword-targeted campaign distributes ads on both the search network and content network, by default. These ad distribution settings can be changed. I think that when a new campaign is created, there should actually be three choices: keyword-targeted search, keyword-targeted content, site-targeted content. This would make the system more clear. A campaign that is purely "keyword-targeted search" would be consistent with the AdWords philosophy document.

Am I being pedantic here or is the AdWords philosophy flawed?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Richard, you are not being pedantic, on the contrary... Spending like you some time on the Google Help groups (although posting way less than you), the number of help requests being posted that have something to do with beginners not understanding the difference and the potential impact of content matching on their spend and overall campaign performance shows that this is often a poorly understood area.

If it ever comes to that, I will second your proposals for removing content matching as default for the Starter Edition.

Great post


Sat Sep 30, 03:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks, Jan. Yeah, there's a massive difference between search engine advertising and contextual advertising. They're both useful forms of PPC advertising, but it should be explicitly obvious for advertisers which sort(s) of advertising they're buying. Particularly for new advertisers, I don't believe they should even be given the choice to run both forms of advertising from within a single campaign.

Incidentally, if Google did entirely separate search engine advertising from contextual advertising, I think that'd reduce the negative press (like the recent BusinessWeek click fraud article) they're currently experiencing.

Sun Oct 01, 10:23:00 PM EDT  

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